Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is shortly expected to announce during a trip to Darwin what areas of regional Australia will be targeted by the backhaul aspect of the government's National Broadband Network plans.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
(Credit: Australian Labor Party)
Rudd is expected to reveal at least six new backhaul links, including a link between Perth and Geraldton, in addition to a formal request for tender process for suppliers to build the connections. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy will not be in Darwin with the Prime Minister.
Telstra will today get a first taste for how much the government has taken heed of suggestions it outlined within its response to the Federal Government's Regional Backbone Blackspots Program Stakeholder Consultation paper.
Telstra had warned the government against running two backhaul links in areas it enjoyed exclusivity. It said this would result in consumers paying higher prices than if it relied on its existing infrastructure.
West Australian ISP iiNet's submission highlighted the problems ISPs faced in regional areas, stating that it had been unable to deploy Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer (DSLAM) technology in regional areas, which would provide ADSL speed broadband, because of Telstra's monopoly.
The $250 million for backhaul links has been allocated by the government to improve competition at a wholesale level in rural areas currently dominated by Telstra and, in part, is the Rudd Government's alternative to the Optus/Elders led $1 billion OPEL project planned by the Howard Government but later canned by Conroy.
Leighton's carrier subsidiary Nextgen in May flagged it intended to make a bid for the work, claiming it already had plans to build in blackspot areas.
The government's backhaul project appears to be running slightly late, with the initial consultation paper having outlined an indicative time frame of May for the backhaul tender documents to be released, with construction due to start in September.